Miss Universe 2017 Review Pt.4

I thought of doing my Miss Universe review a bit earlier to cover a whole new range of issues and points that needs to be discussed. But I never thought that it would come up to four parts…

Pre-Pageant Activities – let’s face it, this is the part of the pageant that is a  dud! Now the problem with the Miss Universe 2017 edition is that it succeeds the 2016 edition within just months. Hence, the comparison is inevitable. One is held in January of this year and then 10 months later we get to see another girl being crowned Miss Universe. People saw the major activities made during the MU in Manila. Everyday, we see news of girls going somewhere for activities for the 65th edition. There is no point of comparison as most of the activities this MU2017 is held in-doors at the hotel. And there are no high-profile activities where the girls get to go around Nevada. Their farthest trip was perhaps within the Vegas Strip. It felt like this edition is too enclosed (kulob sa hotel) that some girls might feel trapped.
There was no Miss Universe after party as well. And we saw some candidates checking out the same evening as the pageant’s finals. Which all the more gave the feeling that this edition was rushed.

Preliminary & National Costume Show – this is the most humbling part of the pageant this year. While I do commend the MUOrg for trying to make the Mezzanine of the Planet Hollywood hotel into a make-shift stage, it was really an ugly stage. The lights was the most ‘challenging’ part, the bottom lit stage with not much overhead lights created unflattering photos of the girls. Unfortunately, this is the best that the MUOrg can do under such tight circumstances. With all the arenas & theaters booked for other acts there are no other location that they could use within Planet Hollywood. If they did venture out to other venues, they would have to pay an additional sum.

Photography and glamshots – the glamshot photos were mainly used on the MU app and weren’t circulated online. There is also a scarce source of photos on the Miss Universe Facebook page unlike the Trump years. And unlike in those years, all candidates didn’t get to be posted with their swimsuit, evening and glamshots on the MU page and social media sites. Any pageant should be very visible on Facebook/ Instagram as this is where pageant fans are.
Let’s not also forget to mention some of the fashions in the glamshots. Was is just me who thought that some of the dresses worn looked more like quinceneara dresses instead of glamorous gowns?  Even the opening dresses looked inexpensive, despite looking fabulous onstage.

This posts a major question: is the pageant loosing sponsorship money to do all these shoots? Or is this the direction of the new owners WME| IMG? Or perhaps the reason that the pageant is so eager for the Philippines to host it is because they can get more sponsors if the pageant is being held there? It is sad to say that perhaps Donald Trump maybe the best thing that happened to MU that added glamour and prestige into the pageant.
Thankfully, the candidate videos can be found on the MU website which allows pageant fans to get to know the girls closer. It may not have gone viral and shared multiple times over social media but it nonetheless is present.
Overall, I would be giving the pageant a 2 & 1/2 star rating out of a possible 5 stars. There were a lot of areas that could have gone better. The pageant’s saving graces were the finals telecast and the crowning of a deserving winner…

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Miss Universe 2017 Review Pt.3

In this part of the review we will be discussing several points including some behind the scenes stuff that pageant fans might not be privy to.

Press Coverage – unlike the over saturation of news and updates of the 65th Miss Universe edition, the Las Vegas edition felt more austere. There was no press-junket this year. Which was a huge deviation from the previous years and is IMHO a major mistake by the org since this is the time where the press would publicize the pageant via their channels and publications. There was no red carpet for the rest of the media except for the MUO press/ photographers and the big networks in the US. This is quite saddening for online pageant media and other smaller publications. But this was the prerogative of the org. Perhaps, the time-table is too tight to accommodate everyone and they had to make do with cuts here and there.
Press attendance wasn’t as high as I have previously encountered. I still remember the MU pageant in Doral and Manila where mediamen are elbowing brushing against each other in tight spaces for the best angles. Press rooms were always packed. Had the Hawaii hosting pushed thru, the expenses to do coverage there would be even more expensive and there would be even less press.

Commentaries of Lu Sierra and Carson Kressley – while I am all up for the addition of the two for the final telecast, I thought it would have been safer to have Carson teamed up with a past Miss Universe. Don’t get me wrong I love Lu as much as every pageant fan, but her link to the MUOrg might overshadow being objective in her commentary. What she says could be deemed/ misinterpreted as what the MUOrg might be collectively thinking. So if she is favoring one candidate, others might interpret that the MUOrg is favoring that candidate simply because Lu is too identified with her role in the MUOrg. Other than that, I love the two faboosh pageant girls! Carson adds an image of high fashion while Lu has insights on the pageant itself.
I only have one suggestion though, get someone else to do the backstage correspondence, and get Carson and Ashley Graham together to provide the commentary. That would have been an explosive idea! Ashley is too high profile to do only backstage correspondence IMHO.

More to come tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Miss Universe 2017 Review Pt.2

As mentioned in previous post, there is a lot to cover this year despite to what feels like a rushed Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas.

Continental Selection of Semi-finalists – I have a feeling that this “gimmick” will only last a year or two. Specially with the backlash that the pageant has received. What I do not like about this is how heavily unbalanced the groupings were with several weak Europeans making it into the list over girls like Misses Panama, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Peru, Korea, Cambodia, Tanzania, and Mauritius. The selection seemed uneven as it left other more worthy competitors in favor of a more “equally diverse selection of semi-finalists“. This novelty in MU is something that Miss Earth and Miss Intercontinental has done more successfully in their pageants. Pageant fans of ME deem it as a copycat move by MU. The idea is good, the execution though is sloppy.

Another thing, why can’t the MU award the ladies that won Miss Congeniality and Best in National costume onstage as it used to? It was a disservice to Panama that she didn’t have her time at the limelight onstage just like Japan’s win for Best National Costume.
The Top 10 & Top 5 Finalists – IMHO I felt like Miss Philippines Rachel Peters should have been in the top 5, I thought she delivered in the evening gown competition. I believe that three strong communicators (Philippines, USA and Canada) were purposely left behind because it would spell doom for a couple of favorites. They would have definitely made it harder for the top 5 to make top 3.

I was glad that Jamaica’s Davina Bennett  made top 5 as she was the only black girl to be called. Davina was one of the strongest girls in the interviews and nailed it every time she spoke. The mulatta Keysi Sayago added variety in a decidedly Caucasian-looking top 5.  She added lots of energy and fire and I personally prefer her to make top 3 than Colombia.  Laura, however, delivered a stronger answer with conviction than Keysi that allowed her to take the lead. It was a disappointment to see Maria Poonlertlarp Ehren of Thailand to choke the Q&A. I thought that she had one of the easy questions that night which was quite similar to Maxine Medina’s question last MU in January. Demi-Leigh delivered a solid performance at the Q&A as expected.

Miss Universe Runners Upwhat is it about Jamaica that the MU doesn’t seem to give high placements to their girls despite performing well in the final Q&A? This happened with Yendi, Kaci and now Davina. I have no issues with Laura placing higher than Davina, though I believe that Davina delivered a much more meaningful, compassionate and heartfelt response to the question. And yes, there were boos because people in the theatre felt that she deserved to be in the top 2.

Guess what? The candidates split themselves in congratulating Demi versus Davina. Davine seemed to get the larger chunk of well-wishers. This is exactly the scenario in 2014 with Kasi Fennell. Davina was also given by the crowd a huge wave of cheers when she stood onstage for a moment. Now that is a queenly treatment! Seems like had the candidates been allowed to cast their votes for a winner, they would have hands down chosen Jamaica. That would have changed the game entirely and perhaps to Davina’s favor. IMHO, I believed that Jamaica should have ended with a top 2 finish.

I believe that the only reason perhaps that she ended up on 3rd place was because Laura and Demi were more “commercial and marketable” in terms of their beauty. Demi owned the night, and the multiple videos showcasing her was evidence of that. She delivered consistently throughout the evening but Davina and Laura gave her a run for her money.

Miss Universe 2017 Review Pt.1

The Miss Universe pageant has just finished several hours ago. And I have so many I wanted to cover and I wanted to start with the most obvious ones: the finals night!

The Show Production – this is the saving grace of the entire competition! Had it not for a fabulous finals night, it would have been one of the most forgettable editions. The stage was the same LED stage we have seen since 2015 and I am inclined that this will be the direction that the pageant will more forwards to. It’s cost efficient, easy logistics-wise, and the stage designers can come up with million new ideas. I just hope that pageant fans wouldn’t get tired and bored of this kind of stage in the future.
The performers were superb! Fergie and Rachel Platten did gave outstanding performances that night. The opening numbers I felt was dragging although it allowed me to get hundreds of shots. I felt that the music selection was okay since some of them has been used in another international pageant *coughmissearthcough*. The dancers were appropriate in the swimsuits though I don’t find them useful in the intro/ opening. They seemed to be just placed in the opening to maximize their pays. The 92 candidates would just be enough actually.

The pacing was quite good this year as we get to see a real feel of a competition. Thankfully they brought back the one by one pasarela of the girls unlike the horrendous groups of threes in the previous edition.
The Winner, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters – don’t get me wrong, I love Demi-Leigh and she was actually my #1 pick for the title. But I felt that her victory was conveniently set-up with countless exposures during the finals (a couple of video interviews plus a backstage interview by Ashley Graham). We get it! She is supposedly/ rumored to be one of the  Miss Universe org’s favorites to win, you don’t have to shove it down our throats! Lols. Demi could win it on her own merits! Demi was gorgeous that night and she nailed every interview.

So the next time that the pageant is being held, it is so easy to point out now who is the org’s favorite, just look at who gets a huge chunk of airtime. They did this with Deshauna in USA 2016, Kara in USA 2017 and now Demi in Universe 2017. If the org doesn’t think we notice, well it has become a pattern. I think this is a disservice to Demi because it throws a bit of shade on her victory that she worked hard for. This is exactly what I have overheard on some fans talking about in the elevators going back to our hotel rooms. This is just like another deja vu of the controversy surrounding her win as Miss South Africa. And honestly, this girls needs to get a breather with all the controversies that surrounded her. Nevertheless, I expect a lot of good things coming out from Demi’s reign. I truly wish that she would have a more meaningful reign compared to Iris and that the Miss Universe org and owners set a meaningful reign for her.

There will be more to discuss so watch out for the next installments of Sashes&Scripts’ Miss Universe review.

My Miss USA 2017 Review: Notes on the Production

This year was not a particularly spectacular show. And for the first time in several years, I was left feeling that something was missing in the telecast.

RUSHED. That is how I would describe this year’s competition. It’s the same feeling as if you have a taxi waiting for you and you have to get through a three-hour program as fast as you could or pay the surcharges. In the exception of Michael Jackson One’s opening performance everything else felt too fast paced and it started right during the opening when the girls were shooed unto the stage.


Yep, no intro of the girls this year and they look like sheep being lead to pasture onstage. I wish they put back the contestant introductions next time. The swimsuit competition was so fast that the camera work was a bit off…like the cameraman didn’t know who/where to focus on. And poor girls, they seem to have been cut down from a 12 second exposure to a 3-5 second pasarela. I wonder, how were the judges able to score them properly in that short window frame.
Same goes during the evening gown where Brett Eldredge seems to only have a just a couple of minutes onstage. And this vein continues even during the final look of the top three girls where they each have a collective exposure of like 16 seconds? And was it just me or did anyone else felt a misfit with Pittbull for the final look? I thought he would be a better fit for the swimsuit segment as his songs have energy to keep the crowd going during that segment.

So here is what I’d like to suggest:
1. Bring back the candidate introductions where they say their names, age and profession, hometown & state. The rest of the girls that didn’t make top 10 looked like set decorations with such a rushed treatment on their tv exposure.
2. Have a theme for the opening in terms of color/material/embellishment so that the girls would look great on-stage. Having different swimsuits is okay as every girl has a different body type but for the opening number, it would look good to have a theme.
3. Reduce the videos being played and do an actual proper interview for the semifinalists. The one question being asked during the announcement of the semifinalists is too short and shallow to really get to know the girls better.
4. Instead of a top 10 do a top 12 semifinalists. It felt like the pageant cut down the semis to only 10 girls because they wanted to save airtime and filled it instead with pre-taped videos (which for pageant fans, it’s been viewed several times already).
5. Give ample time for the music performances to really be enjoyed by the audiences like the pageant used to. Gold standard is still the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, though it did go overboard with the allotted airtime.
6. We really need to see more of the girls competing with their SS & EG performances or we can see the risk of having the pageant looking like it already had a predetermined winner. That is the art of showmanship. Pageant fans want to see the girls in their pasarela to see who really trained hard and performed well.

Overall it was a 6 out of a possible perfect 10 for this year’s production. There is much to be desired from the pacing that the pageant went in the snap of the fingers without anything memorable that sticks to our minds about the girls’ performances except for the interviews.  I just hope that the rushed feeling of the pageant wouldn’t translate to the Miss Universe pageant this year.

 

My Miss USA 2017 Review: The Winners

My gut-feel that a black-to-black win is a high possibility this year and I was right. Though I predicted South Carolina’s Megan Gordon to win, I am absolutely ecstatic with Kara McCullough as the new Miss USA!

I always thought that the Miss USA pageant is very unpredictable and I always had difficulty getting the winner right. But this time around I got 6 of the 10 semi-finalists which is the highest number I had in years! If we factor in the girls in my spoilers list, that’s a whopping 8 out of the 10! With that being said, I was pleasantly surprised that they have a very diverse set of semifinalists this year. Five African-American girls (who dominated the semis) made it alongside an Indian, a redhead, a couple of blondes, and a native American Indian (Alaska) comprising the top 10. Not to mention that they have diverse professions as well, from being a lawyer, a scientist, several dancers, a sportscaster, and a number of students.

I have to say that the Miss USA girls this year have improved tremendously in terms of their walks. Collectively as a group, Class of 2017 have much better pasarelas compared to previous batches (yes, I’m talking about you batch 2015, lols). Notable in the swimsuit segment are Minnesota and Illinois for wearing swimsuit with sleeves/ jacket. But my favorite in this segment is Meridith Gould of Minnesota who looked stunning in her swimsuit. Personally, the EG was dominated by District of Columbia’s Kara McCullough who looked like she was breezing through the stage. Her choice of gown was a fashion win for it looked flowy and effortless on stage. Though I’d also give high points to Chhavi Verg of New Jersey and New York’s Hannah Lopa for their EG presentations.

4 out of the 5 finalists are women of color! And I am loving it. This reflects what the org is aiming for and I knew that instance that they are looking for a woman of diversity to be Miss USA. Then came the Q&A which separated the crown worthy girls from the rest. Illinois’ Whitney Wandland was a bit lost in her answer and I didn’t know the point that she was driving to. For Megan Gordon of South Carolina, I thought gave a great answer though the delivery seemed to be unsure towards the end. She actually started strong and flustered a bit at the end. The Q&A were dominated by Meridith, Kara and Chhavi, IMHO. Minnesota, DC and New Jersey delivered their answers with conviction and clarity. It was no wonder they were named top 3.

After the top 3 girls hurdled the final Q&A, I thought Kara got it in the bag and that Meridith would be her 1st runner up. So when Minnesota was named 3rd placer, I knew the black-to-black win for District of Columbia is happening. And it did! As a final thought, the takeaway from this year’s pageant is one simple thing: Be of substance and a strong resume to bring along into the pageant world. Substance over surface…

My Miss USA 2017 Review: The Non-Inclusions

At the back of my head I had that nagging thought that the facially strong girls would be left frozen at the back with the changes being seen in the MUOrg and that indeed materialized with several fan favorites missing the semis.

Despite being my favorites, I had a feeling that North Carolina’s Katie Coble and Pennsylvania’s Cassandra Angst might miss the cut if Miss USA is just gunning for a top 10. And I was right as they were the first casualties of the first cut. Katie had the face of a Victoria’s Secret angel and she resembles Rosie Huntington quite a bit mixed with a little dash of Helena Christensen. I believe that she probably made the cut if there were 12 or 15 girls in the semis this year. Pennsylvania’s Cassandra, for me at least, is the most stunning girl facial-wise in this year’s batch. I had a feeling that the behind the scenes might have done something for her not to have made the cut or perhaps her weak pasarela. Nevertheless, these two girls would have made a difference in the competition had they entered the semi-finalists.
Nevada’s Lauren York was also a missed the first cut, but hers was not a surprise for this blogger. For some weird reason, I really never saw her as a major contender for the title compared to the likes of Megan Gordon, India Williams, Meridith Gould or even Allee-Sutton Hethcoat. Perhaps it was because I found her resume not as strong as the other girls I mentioned. I thought that there were stronger girls than her in the competition which was the reflected during the finals. The biggest shocker for me was the non-inclusion of Utah’s Baylee Jensen who was a Communications Major with a dual Minor in Sociology and Criminology. Not to mention that her mom Gretchen Polhemus was a former Miss USA herself. I thought Baylee had something to add to the table specially with her background as a dancer, athlete and most importantly her background in criminology.

“Substance over Surface” that seemed to have been the order of business to make it into the semis. That was perhaps the reason why these lovely ladies missed the top 10…